Yes, this is a post about 2016, a classic “year in review” run-down, a “hey look at me, this is what happened in my life” kind of post. Because this is my website, so I can do this sort of thing. If you have a website, maybe you can do the same. If you don’t have a website, you could even do this on a piece of paper. The point is to find the clarity in the messes, the good among the catastrophe, and the pattern that flows through the chaos.
Danielle LaPorte posed five questions to herself, and they seem like good ones to ask as I reflect on the past year. So I’ll go ahead and borrow them — here they are:
What didn’t work?
What did work?
What were the highlights?
And then: What does the new year look like if it’s full of what works?
Bonus Q: What do your highlights say about you?
So, what didn’t work. Nothing like starting in with the messes. What didn’t work in 2016 was supporting everyone and everything all the time, trying to hold space for changes that just weren’t gonna happen on my watch, and calling on myself to always be the one to say “it’s going to be fine, everything will work out.” Turns out I can’t support everyone and everything all the time – it’s too heavy for one set of arms, even arms that do yoga a lot. Turns out big companies and politicians and cultural systems take a lot of space holders to pave the way for change, and I don’t always get a say in when I have to put something down. And turns out it doesn’t serve anyone when I don’t let myself feel what’s wrong. Not that I want to be a cloud of negative energy all the time – but being a cloud of negative energy with a fake sun stapled to her front is worse. It’s better for all when I can feel what needs to be felt fully, and then let it go. I don’t claim to be good at this.
But let’s move on from the messes, yeah? What did work. What did work in 2016 was acting in accordance with what I value, using my voice through writing, and having faith in projects that mean the world to me. What did work was stepping outside of what felt easy and comfortable. What did work was stretching myself, acting on ideas, and introducing those ideas to new people. Turns out when I do things that align with the things that are truly important to me, things work and I feel good. Turns out when I write I can convey my thoughts and ideas in ways that people can understand, and when I believe in something, it goes better. Turns out when I stretch my boundaries of comfort and do hard things, I feel lighter and more open to what’s going on in the universe. Turns out when I share ideas, conversation, and space with others, I feel like part of something bigger than myself. Turns out a lot of things did work.
Highlights? In a nutshell and in chronological order, at least somewhat:
Starting a wellness collective, Wildfire Wellness with a beautiful soul named Melissa.
Leading two Art of Living Wild retreats for women (that went well!)
Developing 4 eCourses via We Are Wildness U, including the online version of The Art of Living Wild (and having people sign up and enjoy them…)
Working with Kevin and Alissa of We Are Wildness on projects that matter and being able to be a part of keeping/getting their company’s momentum going.
Publishing my first book, Prairie Grown.
Signing a contract to publish my second book in 2017 with Homebound Publications.
Starting work on a third book with two fellow Enough writers, Ellie and Kris.
Seeing Eva learn intellectually and socially as she continues to grow into being a beautiful human. Nick’s commitment to her needs.
Food swap success. Community groups starting. Gardens that continue to grow.
New baby Alma, weddings, family gatherings, and hikes/paddles to beautiful places.
Warm fires, days with snow and sunshine, even when then are few and far between, laying on the grass in the early fall after the bugs go away, little moments of love sprinkled into a life. Remembering that I can be good at gratitude if I put my mind to it.
But anyway, back to the questions: A new year that’s full of what works might include….lots of writing, doing hard things that feel uncomfortable at least at first, letting values lead, and giving relationships, community, and time outside priority. Making sure to notice the good.
Bonus Q: My highlights tell me that I’m a writer, that I need to give myself credit, that it’s important to accept and/or ask for support, that I need nature and other people, and that I can do hard things.
What’s your year in review look like? (Does this exercise feel cliche? Maybe. Helpful? Probably. Self indulgent? Sometimes necessary.) Your turn: Go!